|We've got NEWS|
|Tuesday, December 28, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
STUDY SHOWS HMONG WELL SERVED BY W-2
MADISON - The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released data that shows 92 percent of the Hmong families who left welfare after the start of W-2 did so because of employment and other sources of increased family income. The number of Hmong families on welfare cash assistance has decreased by 84%, from 965 to 150, since W-2 started in September, 1997.
The data from W-2 case files shows that 68 percent of Hmong families left welfare because they got jobs, and an additional 24 percent left the rolls because their family income increased due to earnings and/or other sources of income such as social security insurance.
DWD Executive Assistant Mark Liedl said this hard data squarely contradicts widely reported assertions in a report released earlier this week by the Institute for Wisconsins Future claiming Wisconsin Hmong were faring poorly under the W-2 program.
"These facts clearly demonstrate that Hmong families have been well-served by Wisconsins innovative welfare reform," Liedl said. "AFDC trapped these families in dependency, but W-2 has helped them achieve independence and success. We are dedicated to helping the 150 Hmong families who remain on W-2 overcome the barriers that are keeping them from independence. Our track record so far and the flexibility and innovation that W-2 offers makes us confident well succeed in helping these remaining families achieve success."
"W-2 has been a successful program for the Hmong," added Shoua Xiong, Executive Director of Lao Family Community Inc, an organization located in Milwaukee that provides services to refugee families. "We provide quality service to Hmong families through translation and language services, and we have done very well providing education and training services, and helping them find employment."
DWD Executive Assistant Liedl condemned the "shoddy research and political bias" of the report issued earlier this week by the Institute for Wisconsins Future and widely reported by the media statewide. "The public should be wary of such groups pedaling political opinions masquerading as legitimate research," he said.
Liedl said the Institute for Wisconsins Future report was based on its interviews of 137 Hmong who currently are on W-2. From those interviews the report leveled broad assertions and sweeping generalizations claiming W-2 has failed to serve Hmong families. The reports co-author, Vicky Selkowe, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in its December 18, 1999 edition, that Hmong families who left welfare simply dropped off because they couldnt understand English. "The real facts squarely contradict this baseless accusation," Liedl said. "Its a striking example of this groups seat-of-the-pants opinions posing as research."
The DWD study tracked the actual cases of every single Hmong family on welfare immediately before W-2 started in 1997. Each case file was examined to determine what happened to each Hmong family who left the rolls between September, 1997 and October, 1999.
The number of Hmong families on W-2 was 965 in August 1997. Of these, 176 families were determined to be ineligible for W-2, and instead were transitioned to another form of assistance such as Social Security Income (SSI) or Kinship Care, a program for families caring for children they are not legally responsible for.
Of the remaining 789 families who were on W-2 when it started in September of 1997:
Of the 639 families who are no longer receiving cash benefits, 493 or 77% continue to receive one or more supportive services including food stamps, medicaid, child care, and W-2 case management services such as job assistance.
In addition, W-2 agencies and refugee employment and training providers have worked together to provide extensive services to Hmong residents of Wisconsin. DWDs Office of Refugee Services has obtained more than $3 million annually in competitive federal grants for employment services targeted at the Hmong, along with another $3 million in supportive services for mental health, youth services, domestic abuse intervention, elder services and business development.
"DWD will continue to work aggressively with local W-2 agencies and Hmong community based service providers to help Wisconsins Hmong families overcome their barriers to employment to achieve self-sufficiency," Liedl said. Resources include:
Under their W-2 contract with DWD, local W-2 agencies are required to provide interpreters. All of the W-2 agencies in communities with substantial Hmong populations have bilingual staff, either in the agency, under subcontracts or both. There are over 45 Hmong interpreters and bilingual staff who work with the W-2 agencies. For example:
Moreover, local W-2 agencies across the state have strong partnerships with Hmong service providers who provide a wide array of services to Hmong families.
They will soon begin learning machine tool skills so that the workers can gain advancement, supervise other limited English employees and help OCS in its expansion efforts.